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Two A6 tool steel (free machining grade) shafts, parts of a clamping device used for bending 5.7 cm OD tubing on an 8.6 cm radius, failed simultaneously under a maximum clamping force of 54,430 kg. The shaft was imposed with cyclic tensile stresses due to the clamping force and unidirectional bending stresses resulting from the nature of operation. Nonmetallic oxide-sulfide segregation was indicated by microscopic examination of the edge of the fracture surface. Both smooth and granular areas were revealed on visual examination of the fracture. The shaft was subjected to a low overstress as the smooth-textured fatigue zone was relatively large compared with the crystalline textured coarse final-fracture zone. The fatigue crack was nucleated by the nonmetallic inclusion that intersected the surface and initiated in the 0.25 mm radius fillet at a change in section due to stress concentration. To minimize this stress concentration, a larger radius fillet shaft at the critical change in section was suggested as corrective measure.

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Unidirectional-Bending Fatigue Failure of an A6 Tool Steel Shaft, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Machine Tools and Manufacturing Equipment, ASM International, 2019,

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